Thread: Tiny VRs
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Old September 26 2013, 08:17 PM   #1
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Tiny VRs

When I worked for a multimedia company in the late '90s and early 2000s, I made a lot of VR movies. They came in two types: object and panorama.

Object VRs were made up of hundreds of stills showing an object from every angle. This was a workable solution when CPUs were slower and the fancy 3D engines now found in most games did not exist. One does not find many object VRs these days. (NATIONAL GEOGRAPHIC featured a VR of the Titanic in their iPad issue last year.)

Panoramas are essentially one photo "projected" onto a virtual cylinder or sphere. This technology is still around and used in a variety of ways. If one does not have the fancy hardware to take a "360" image in one shot, then there are lots of apps that will stitch a bunch of photos together into one panorama. So panoramas can be pursued by hobbyists.

I was playing with a panoramic astronomy app on my iPad, marveling at the added features. The iPad's built in sensors allow the virtual night sky to be aligned to the north and the horizon, turning as I turn so that the iPad becomes a kind of window into a virtual world. I see a point of light slowly moving across the real sky and "frame it" with the iPad, where I can see the same point of light moving along in the virtual sky. Tapping the point informs me that I am looking at the spent stage of a Russian rocket launched in the late '80s. Cool.

That prompted me to look for VR viewers. I found several and bought one that I liked. I loaded some old VRs I had made—both object and pano, although the panos are the most fun for that "window" effect. The software recommends panoramas around 8K (about 8000 pixels wide) to avoid aliasing and other artifacts. There are lots of panoramas that big, and bigger, to be found on the Web.

Then I thought of the STAR TREK: TNG INTERACTIVE TECHNICAL MANUAL I bought sometime back in the last century. (The publishing date is 1994, the stone age for computers.) I knew the VR movies would be small, but I was still surprised by how small. QTVR was very new back in '94. I dug out the disc, then nearly gagged at how small and crude the VRs are: 320 x 216 pixels. That barely classes as a thumbnail these days.

I'm going to have to render some new panoramas, just for fun. If anyone knows of any panorama TREK images, let me know. Maybe I'll put a head strap on the iPad and wear it like a VR visor.

(The app I am using is iPano. Any VR images will do.)

^ Tiny VR from Tech Manual
"No, I better not look. I just might be in there."
—Foghorn Leghorn, Little Boy Boo

Last edited by Metryq; September 26 2013 at 08:47 PM. Reason: add image
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